I have always loved reading, so I will tell a rollicking good tale …
Writers are, of necessity, sedentary creatures. The craft demands it. Authors report the effort to balance time spent at the computer screen or notebook and movement is inherent to the writing process.
Joanna Lloyd, a novelist in Cairns, is sedentary by another necessity. A Multiple Sclerosis (MS) sufferer, she writes to create and as an exercise in freedom from enforced inactivity. Her mind, her soul revels in the world of imagination. She comes to the page sans the appendage capability for movement taken for granted by the majority.
A New Guinean born Australian, Joanna has haunting memories of a childhood spent with missionary parents on Bellio Island, a volcanic emerald dot in the turquoise vastness of the Arafura Sea, north of Madang.
“As a child it was a long, long boat ride to anywhere, and I remember women put their babies in the meat safe to save them from snakes and flies,” she relates.
Joanna is a perfect host to my inquiring interview. She punctuates all answers with (I learn quickly in our short time together), a trademark beatific smile.
“At 12 years of age, my idyllic island lifestyle was replaced with the severe demands of Ravenswood Methodist College in Sydney, and my happy nature was supplanted with an overwhelming sense of abandonment and dread.”
The rebellion in response to this abrupt intervention remained latent until she wrote her first published novel, Beyond Innocence (2012) published by Crimson Romance.
“In the process of bringing my main character to the page, I realised I was expressing my frustrations, which were initiated by my relationship with and view of my mother, and in fact, I could hear my mother’s when I got inside the character,” she flashes that smile.
“My heroine was reacting to the suppression my mother suffered and in turn chose circumstances for me so I would experience similar forces.”
When she was diagnosed with MS, in 1986, her immediate response was to pack up her family, leave her mediation consultancy and travel around the world.
“I knew my time for travel was limited,” she passes me that smile again, “and I wanted to fulfil that dream.”
The sudden loss of her beloved husband, David, and the increasing debilitation caused by the disease, pushed her toward a writing career.
“There I was, not able to leave my chair, being attended daily by carers and I thought, what can I do?”
“I have always loved reading, so I will tell a rollicking good tale; one that is outside myself.
I wanted to create the heroine initially, as someone I admired and then let her develop herself,” she smiles, the beatific transformed to mischievous.”
These days, inspiration comes while she is exercising in her pool surrounded by the tropical plants of her garden. She shows me the special chair that lowers her into the water, where she can move quite well aided by the liquid support. Her view is to the emerald clad mountains that are the rainforest backdrop to Cairns.
“I tell my carer to grab a pencil and pad; you never know what will come of the day’s exercise.” This time she laughs.
The words get to the page through a speech recognition program. It is a labourious process, as the software is often mistaken and corrections are made by way isolating the mistakes and repeating the corrections.
Joanna leads me into the office where she writes; the same view to the mountains from her window, now hosts a gathering of monsoonal thunderheads.
“I exchange emails with writers from other parts of the world who tell me they are just about to leave on a trip to research the place where their next novel will be set.”
“It’s hard to quell the envy, as I would travel if I was able bodied.”
That smile is tinged with wistfulness this time. She claims she has come to terms with what is.
“My first two novels were romance stories, and I am now working on a contemporary fiction.”
“It’s a challenge I love and I find my greatest joy in taking one day at a time.”
Joanna Lloyd novels
Beyond Innocence + Shadow Beneath the Sea
Sonja Anderson – Books
Sonja is a communication specialist and passionate author with a rich background in multi-media journalism, public relations and marketing. As well as her expressive professional life, Sonja teaches meditation in her Freshwater studio, in Cairns, Australia. Sonja has raised three children, who are her best friends. Life Balance = Meditation. Love. Communication.